Through The Esses - The Next 24 Begins Now For The Daytona Prototypes
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04/23/09 -
© Andrew S. Hartwell

When the green flag waves this Sunday for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, it will mark the end of nearly 14 weeks of waiting for the Grand-Am Rolex Series to roar back to life this season. When the Brumos Porsche-Riley of David Donohue, Darren Law, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia took the hotly contested and well deserved Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona - Daytona Prototype - race win, it seemed like 2009 held the promise of so much more. So far though, race fans have had to live with so much less.

All that waiting through an extended drought will now be followed by a torrent of racing action with the Verizon Wireless 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park following exactly one week after the VIR weekend. Then the series really makes up for lost time by fitting in nine more races from May to the first week in October.

That sure was a lot of waiting to go fast followed by a lot of going fast without waiting.

While the Rolex 24 hours was certainly a test of endurance for every team involved, the next 24 weeks will be the real test as several key contenders will be chasing down short lap times - and full length races - in pursuit of a championship.

The many teams that did not win the Rolex 24 are gearing up for a second chance at a win at the second race and beyond. SunTrust Racing stalwart Max Angelelli says his team is anxious to get back to the action with a good feeling for what is to come.

"I can't say how much I am looking forward to racing again. I really started looking forward to it at least two months ago. It got to be pretty awful not being able to race for three whole months. It was boring, from a racing standpoint. We are definitely looking forward to starting the season again at VIR because it has been a really good track for the SunTrust team. I'm really looking forward to taking the Dallara back there for the second time. It is a very good car, a very good project for us. I'm feeling very good, personally. Basically, there is a very good atmosphere throughout the team."

Tracy Krohn's KROHN Racing is coming back to the track with a single car this time around. He has decided to step out of the second KROHN Proto-Lola and let his hot shoes Nic Jonson and Ricardo Zonta chase the rest of the field to the checkered flag.

"The first thing to understand is that (going with one car) is because of business opportunity." Krohn said, "Right now, we think that with lower prices and the fact that my company, W&T Offshore (WTI - NYSE) has cash and has liquidity, we see this as an opportune time to be out buying properties and making deals. We think this will set us up for the next decade. That's our opinion and we think that we will grow the company and make it much stronger than it already is. That part of it is why I am stepping out of the car - because that is my primary the oil and gas business. And now is a good time to be out making things happen. So that's the reason that I stepped out of the car, not because I want to quit racing or anything. Certainly I will miss it, but on the other hand, this will put us in the position to race for a long time."

Lead driver Nic Jönsson feels the loss of a second car will not deter his team's chances for a great run. "It's obviously always a challenge when you go from two cars to one car from a set-up standpoint. Having two cars is a big benefit in a team. Now we are going to get everything done on the No. 76 car between Ricardo, David (Brown - Engineer) and me. We are going to have Simon (Marshall) along as an engineer on the same engineering staff as well and expect that to be beneficial to us. Although initially it is different for everybody, I know we are going to manage and really stay focused on the task of winning races and making a run for the championship...not just for Tracy as an owner, but for the whole